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PRES. HINCKLEY GREETS SAINTS IN ST. LOUIS

Latter-day Saints in St. Louis extended a warm Easter-weekend welcome to President Gordon B. Hinckley, participating in his first regional conference since becoming Church president.

President Hinckley was accompanied to the conference April 15-16 by Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve, also filling his first regional conference assignment since being sustained as an apostle at the April general conference. Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley and Sister Kathleen J. Eyring made the trip with their husbands.More than 7,000 members of the St. Louis Missouri Region, encompassing six stakes, heard President Hinckley declare his witness of the resurrected Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at the conference general session in the St. Louis Convention Center on Easter morning, April 16. President Hinckley also spoke to 670 area priesthood leaders on Saturday, April 15, at a nearby stake center, and addressed missionaries serving in the Missouri St. Louis Mission prior to the general session Sunday morning.

On a blustery, overcast Saturday morning, the prophet and local priesthood leaders visited the St. Louis Missouri Temple site, 20 miles west of downtown. (See accompanying temple fact box.) As President Hinckley drove up to the temple site, the sun broke through the flat, gray sky - a fact not lost on several appreciative photographers who were recording his visit.

The prophet spent about 40 minutes walking around the rising structure, which is in the early stages of construction.

President Hinckley, who helped select the temple site and participated with President Thomas S. Monson during a groundbreaking service Oct. 30, 1993, recounted to the group the bitter cold day and frozen ground faced on that occasion. This April day was a mild contrast, with morning temperatures approaching 60 degrees despite a stiff wind. The temple site sits along a hillside adjacent to U.S. Highway 40 in Town and Country, Mo., a community of attractive homes nestled among rolling green hills and many trees.

The prophet was briefed on the project's status by Elder Menlo F. Smith, regional representative; Pres. G. Richard Oscarson of the St. Louis Missouri Stake; and Gary L. Holland, project manager for the Church.

Easter dawned sunny and warm in St. Louis, and Church members dressed in their finest began arriving downtown early to attend the conference. Speaking at the Sunday morning general session, the prophet noted that nearly all of the more than 7,000 people in attendance "could stand on this Easter morning and say, `I know that my Redeemer lives.'

"I know that. That is the great strength and power of this work, my brothers and sisters. The real strength of the Church lies not in the physical facilities which we own. . . . The strength of the Church lies in the conviction carried in the hearts of its members, by the individual members of the Church. It is the privilege, it is the opportunity, it is the obligation of every Latter-day Saint to gain for himself or herself a certain knowledge that this is the work of the Almighty, that God our Eternal Father lives and watches over His children when they look to Him in faith; that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of all mankind, who rose from the dead to become the firstfruits of them that slept. That testimony . . . is the most precious possession that any of us can hold.

"I want to thank you, every one of you who is here this morning, for the conviction which you carry in your hearts of that great sacred, most important of all truths: `I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last day I shall see Him upon the earth.' So declared Job, and so can declare each of you."

President Hinckley said if there were any lacking that testimony, they "can get it; and you must get it. How? The Lord has said that he that doeth the will of the Father shall know of the doctrine, `whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.' (John 7:17.) That's the way you gain a testimony. You do the will of the Father, and as certainly as you do the will of the Father you will know of the truth of the gospel, including the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

"My beloved brethren and sisters, I add my testimony to the thousands of testimonies that will be borne in this Church across the world this day. . . . For all of Christendom, for all of mankind, today is observed as the anniversary of the greatest miracle in human history. It is the miracle that encompasses all who have lived upon the earth, all who now live upon the earth and who will yet live upon the earth. Nothing done before or since has so affected mankind as the atonement wrought by Jesus of Nazareth, who died on Calvary's cross and rose from the grave the third day as the living Son of the living God, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind."

President Hinckley went on to discuss the reality of the resurrection of the Savior, and of the resurrection of all mankind. "The Holy Spirit testifies of the truth, the validity, of what really occurred. His was the ultimate sacrifice; His the sublime victory."

He noted in detail the overwhelming evidence, aside from the witness of the Spirit, supporting the Lord's resurrection, citing accounts from the New Testament, the Book of Mormon and the Prophet Joseph Smith. "Is there a more fully attested experience in the history of humankind than the resurrection of Jesus that first Easter morning?"

After recounting biblical accounts of the resurrected Lord, he noted: "All of this and more is found in the New Testament. It has served as the foundation of faith of uncounted millions across the world through all these generations of time. They have lived by this testimony, and many of them, thousands, perhaps millions in the aggregate, have died by it. When the dark shadow of death has crossed their paths, when hope normally would have fled, there has come that reassurance that `as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.' (1 Cor. 15:21-22.) In such hours of darkness there has shone forth a light, steady and certain, to sustain and comfort them."

The prophet then spoke of the Book of Mormon: "If that is not enough, there is another testament, the Book of Mormon. This scripture of the New World is before us as an added witness of the divinity and reality of the Lord Jesus Christ, of the encompassing beneficence of His atonement, and of His coming forth from the darkness of the grave.

"This testimony is here to handle; it is here to be read; it is here to be pondered; it is here to be prayed over with a promise that he who prays shall know by the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true."

He noted a third powerful witness of the Savior's resurrection, found in the life, mission, teachings and martyr's death of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

"Declared the Prophet and his companion: `And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father - That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.' (D&C 76:22-24.)

"To which may be added the testimony of millions such as you, my beloved brethren and sisters who are assembled in this hall this morning. Each of you could stand and bear similar testimony. I add my own witness concerning this matter. I know that He lives. I know that God is our Eternal Father, that Jesus was His only Begotten in the flesh, who was sent here by His Father as part of a great eternal plan for the blessing and benefit of all men, women and children of all generations of time who should become the beneficiaries of that sacrifice which was enacted on the lonely hill of Calgary. How grateful I am for that knowledge. I think I'm confident there is nothing else in all this world that can equal in importance that knowledge, insofar as I am concerned. I hope that each of you similarly treasures your knowledge of the living reality of the Son of the living God.

"Now, on this Easter day, what shall we do? . . .

This isT a day for resolution, my brothers and sisters, a day for making a decision within ourselves to be a little better than we've been, a little kinder, a little more merciful, a little more outreaching, with a little greater desire to bless those in distress and need. To be willing to go the second mile, to impart of our cloak, if need be, to do good where evil has been done against us, to be just a little more Christlike. I would hope that everyone here this day, before he or she retires for the night, would go home and sit down and perhaps read those last few chapters of John, and ponder the meaning of what is there set forth. Think of some small way in which we might improve ourselves and draw nearer to our Lord.

"God bless you, my beloved associates in this great work, my fellow Latter-day Saints, my dear friends in the gospel of the Master. I leave my blessing upon you, you wonderful men and women of faith and testimony and prayer, that as you walk in faith and faithfulness, the Lord will bless you, the heavens will be open and blessings will be showered upon you, that ye shall not lack what you need. But even more important, there shall be the wondrous spirit and power of the Holy Ghost which shall come into your lives, bless you, comfort you, sustain and guide you."

*****

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

St. Louis Missouri Temple

- Location: About 20 miles west of downtown St. Louis, along U.S. Highway 40, in the city of Town and Country, Mo.

- Groundbreaking: Oct. 30, 1993, by President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson.

- Size: 65,500 square feet, including four ordinance rooms.

- Temple district: 26 stakes in Missouri and parts of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas.

- Construction: Single-spire design with granite precast facing.